Enjoy a Holiday Meal with These 7 Tips for Thanksgiving and Diabetes

Thanksgiving and Diabetes
Enjoy a Holiday Meal with These 7 Tips for Thanksgiving and Diabetes

Mmmm…pumpkin pie, but what will your blood sugar think? 

More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes, and like the rest of the country, they’ll be sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal this holiday season. (1

If you’re one of them, you’ll have a few rules to follow. 

But don’t worry, you’ll still be able to enjoy a delicious holiday meal!

It’ll just take a bit of planning and a pinch of self-discipline. 

Above all else, Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for your health, and the last thing you want is to sabotage it by eating the wrong foods!

After all, nothing ruins a party faster than a nasty blood sugar crash.

Luckily, we’ve prepared a few helpful tips for a healthy, diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving. 

As it turns out, Thanksgiving and diabetes are more compatible than you might have thought. 

7 Healthy Tips for Thanksgiving and Diabetes

Are you ready to gobble up some turkey with the best of ’em?

Here are seven of our top tips for Thanksgiving and diabetes: 

1. Avoid Starch-Heavy Side Dishes

Stuffing is a classic Thanksgiving dish, but it’s also a glucose spike waiting to happen. 

According to the USDA, just one ounce of stuffing contains approximately 22 grams of carbs. (2

The best option is to prepare a ketogenic stuffing with riced cauliflower and vegetables. 

Plus, traditional stuffing is made with gluten-containing bread: one of the most inflammatory foods there is.

Not only is bread known to make diabetes worse, but it can also aggravate rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

To top it all off, gluten is linked to anxiety, depression, autism, and ADHD.

Unfortunately, potatoes are in the same category.

They aren’t quite as bad as gluten, but they’re still incredibly starchy.

Besides, potatoes are also a nightshade: a family of plants that tend to promote inflammation.

2. Go Easy on the Appetizers

Thanksgiving is a marathon, not a sprint.

It’s going to be a long day, and that means you’ll have to be aware of what you’ve eaten earlier in the day. 

Eventually, it all adds up. 

Believe it or not, quickly eating large amounts of protein can boost your blood sugar.

After all, the last thing you want is to elevate your blood sugar right before a big meal. 

Of course, there are plenty of diabetes-friendly appetizers to choose from, and chances are you’ll be able to find a plate of veggies to munch on.

Besides, it’s a wise move to load-up of vegetables first. 

Not only do they warm the digestive system up, but they also slow sugar absorption. 

3. Drink Smarter

In general, alcohol is pro-inflammatory. (3)

Plus, when it comes to diabetes, certain alcohol, like beer and wine, are relatively high in carbs.

Ultimately, large amounts of alcohol can overwhelm the digestive system and weaken the gut lining.

What does this mean for Thanksgiving and diabetes?

A weak gut lining allows inflammatory agents, including sugar, to pass directly into the bloodstream.


Body-wide inflammation and high blood glucose are the last things you want to have to deal with on turkey day.

Instead of rolling the dice and drinking alcohol, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

After all, Thanksgiving is about enjoying time with family and friends, and you don’t need to drink to do that.

4. Focus On Fiber

As a diabetic, it’s always important to eat plenty of fiber. 

In fact, fiber will be your best friend as you navigate Thanksgiving with diabetes. 

Fiber not only slows glucose absorption, but it also fuels healthy gut bacteria. 

As it turns out, studies show that balanced gut bacteria is linked to lower rates of obesity and diabetes. (4)

Whenever you start craving potatoes and other starchy foods, fill up quick on some broccoli or cauliflower. 

The dense fiber in these vegetables will fill your belly and give your gut bacteria something healthy to digest. 

Although nuts and legumes are high in fiber, they’re also high in pro-inflammatory lectins.

For this reason, it’s best to avoid the nut bowl. 

Beans and lentils are also high in lectins and should stay on your list of foods to avoid this Thanksgiving. 

5. Portion Control

Portion control is one of the biggest issues for people with diabetes. 

In the excitement of the day, it can be easy to lose track of what you’ve eaten. 

However, by eating veggies first, you’ll have a healthy foundation to build on. 

When it’s finally time to sit down for the big feast, fill up half your plate with fibrous veggies. 

Next, portion out the rest of your plate with turkey, roast beef, and other clean proteins. 

And remember to eat gradually, enjoying every bite, and always alternate between meat and vegetables. 

The more fiber you can keep in your gut, the less likely you’ll be to experience high blood sugar. 

6. For Dessert?

Here’s where it might be time to suck it up and take one for the team. 

Desserts are public enemy #1 for diabetes. 

In fact, if you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, desserts probably helped you get there. (6

This is why it’s best to avoid pies and cakes altogether. 

No matter which way you slice it (pun intended) that piece of pumpkin pie is not your friend. 

When it comes down to it, the combination of dessert, Thanksgiving, and diabetes is a blood glucose disaster waiting to happen. 

7. Get Some Exercise 

Start the day off right by improving blood glucose control with exercise. 

It is well-established that regular physical activity can prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes. 

For example, a 2010 study published in the journal Diabetes Care concluded that “Participation in regular PA [physical activity] improves blood glucose control and can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, along with positively affecting lipids, blood pressure, cardiovascular events, mortality, and quality of life.” (7)

After the big meal, go for a walk and get some fresh air. 

The fact is, just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Thanksgiving. 

By planning ahead, you shouldn’t have to make too many sacrifices. 

If you have any more questions about Thanksgiving and diabetes, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.

We’re happy to help you stay happy and healthy this holiday season.

Click here for a PDF of irresistible holiday recipes! Holiday Recipes_ebook V10.17 (002)

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